Get on Board the Sludge Train

THE FREIGHT TRAIN RUMBLED TO A HALT ON A CATTLE ranch in Hudspeth County, and workers began unloading biologically treated sludge onto the dry West Texas earth. County Judge Billy Love reflected on the manurelike mush with satisfaction. "This is about as big a blessing as the community could hope for," he declared. "The gains for us far outweigh any dangers."

Not everybody in Hudspeth County concurs. Ever since an Oklahoma consortium, MERCO, announced plans to turn the old 128,000-acre ranch into a repository for millions of tons of New York City sewage, local ranchers and townsfolk have worried about toxic...

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